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Manchester United 1, Liverpool 1 (agg: 1-3): First Thoughts

Liverpool came back from a one-goal deficit to equalize, and then saw the game out in the second half. It might have not been a great performance, but it was a great result.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Manchester United 1: Martial (pen) 32'
Liverpool 1: Coutinho 45'

  • Pregame Thoughts: I was feeling pretty good after last week's performance and bring a two-goal lead to the second leg. Was. As in past tense. Now, I feel like 2 goals isn't nearly enough, and I'll probably have an uneasy feeling unless (until?) Liverpool score the first goal. Liverpool runs out a largely unchanged line-up, with Milner being the solitary change. The vice captain comes in for an injured Alberto Moreno. Hopefully he can keep his wits about him, unlike last time he was shuffled around to fullback, only to be sent off moments later.

  • And away we go...

  • One minute in and the intensity is already exceeding anything we saw from Manchester United last time out. It's going to be a long 89 minutes.

  • Fellaini with his first elbow in the match. Naturally, he's not booked for the foul.

  • Fifteen minutes in and things remain tense. United are throwing their best punch, but so far they've not managed so much as a shot.

  • What did I say? Oh, Lindgard gets a free header right in front of goal, but Mignolet is up to the task and palms it wide. On the ensuing corner Mata takes a bouncing ball and fires it just wide. Warning shots have been fired, but Liverpool's two-goal advantage remains for now.

  • Liverpool really need to get some control in this game. After 20 minutes, the hosts have over 60% of the possession, and have continued to ratchet up pressure.

  • The Reds finally get through on a counter-attack, only for the move to break down with a rare heavy touch from Firmino, who otherwise would have likely had a decent chance to test the keeper.

  • A shot on target for Liverpool! Hooray! This one is courtesy of Philippe Coutinho, who fires a low shot from just outside the box, but too close to de Gea (which he saved, doin' as he do). Moments later Firmino unleashes a blistering shot from distance, but again it's too close to the keeper and de Gea easily collects it.

  • ***Penalty*** Clyne takes down Martial, and the ref points straight to the spot. No complaints there.
  • ***Goal*** Martial steps up to the spot and sends Mignolet the wrong way. Liverpool's advantage appears tenuous at best at this juncture.

  • Sturridge almost immediately creates a response. First, he drives at Blind and wins a free kick in a dangerous area, and gets the defender booked. Then he takes the ensuing free kick and bangs it off the woodwork. So close, yet so far.

  • This half cannot end soon enough. We need to see this half out, get into the locker room, and regroup.

  • Liverpool very nearly respond. Henderson sets up a beautiful 1-2 and finds himself with a free shot on goal from about 15 yards out. Unfortunately, he does his best impression of himself from last week and hits it over the crossbar.

  • The heart attacks continue. The defense completely goes to sleep, but Fellaini does not, as he successfully chased down a long pass and cut it back for Rojo, who somehow doesn't convert this great opportunity.

  • ***GOAL!*** COUTINHO!!! The Magician comes up with something truly memorable right at the half, as he collects the ball wide, beats his marker, drives straight at de Gea, and chips the keeper from close range. 3-1 to the Reds on aggregate, and we got the all-important away goal.

  • Half-time: Liverpool were definitely second-best in the first half, with Manchester United desperately pushing to make a game of it. However, that strategy left room for Liverpool to exploit. Despite the Reds not being known for their counter-attacking this season, they created a few chances, including that all-important equalizer from Phil. Coutinho went close with his first effort, but left no doubts with his second as he finally bagged his goal against the other Manchester side on the biggest of nights. 

  • Hey! A booking for a Fellaini elbow to the head! At least the ref saw it this time.

  • That Coutinho goal really took the wind out of United's sails. They're still pushing forward, but not with the same intensity as in the first half.

  • Fellaini--who seems determined to reward UEFA's favorable treatment with a goal--goes close with a free header from about 8 yards. But the header is too close to his Belgian international teammate, and Migs collects it.

  • On the off chance that your pants are still on after Coutinho's goal, the Brazilian made sure that all the pants are now gone, as he picks up the ball in midfield and proceeds to embarrass several Man United defenders with some fancy dribbling before laying it off to Sturridge (who fires his chance wide, because we can't have nice things around these parts).

  • Liverpool make their first change, bringing on Origi for Sturridge. Danny looks pissed, but Liverpool look like they need a more physical presence up front. The decision pays immediate dividends, as Origi starts a move that helps Liverpool win their first corner of the night.

  • 70 minutes gone and we're getting the first cut-away shots to despondent Manchester United fans. Mmmm, United tears are the best tears. 

  • Henderson hands off the armband to Milner as he's replaced by Wee Joe Allen. The captain immediately heads into the locker room, which is a bit disconcerting considering his ongoing issues with plantar fasciitis.

  • 80 minutes and the home fans are clearing out. Is there a better possible compliment to the visitors?

  • As time winds down the traveling Kop is at a fever pitch. Sing away Liverpool supporters, it's been a good night.

  • Full Time: It was a nervy and at times downright terrifying first 44 minutes at Old Trafford. Then one moment from Coutinho changed the whole fixture. That one goal broke United's spirit, and spare a few half-chances in the second half, they never really threatened to get back into it.

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We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.

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